Professional digital artist Greg Vilk believes in the marriage of high-end CG and fine art.
He unites the two in his work visually and methodically, creating his own shaders and graphics
networks to create a specific look, just as the old masters mixed their own paints, and using
crowd systems and terrain generators for background imagery, just as apprentices handled the
more mundane aspects for a master.
A TD in the film industry, Vilk learned technical and programming skills at studios including
PDI/Dreamworks and Digital Domain. Technically, film work has taught Vilk how to make a 2K
image hold up in terms of detail and realism, for instance. Lately though, he has been devoting
more of his time to digital painting, which he finds more stimulating than the film work.
Style-wise, Vilk's biggest influences are from the Northern European Gothic painters Bosch,
Grünwald, Dürer, and [modern painters like] Beksinski. "I call my style 'digital Gothic'," he says.
To this end, Vilk contrasts the fantastic, modern subject matter of his pieces with their aged,
weathered appearance (akin to medieval paintings). "They're meant to look like artifacts left
by an imaginary, alien culture that combined advanced technology with the mentality similar
to our Dark Ages."
To accomplish that weathered appearance, the artist creates custom shaders and
compositing networks set up within Side Effects Software's Houdini. These include a brush stroke
shader that enables him to procedurally re-create the look of strokes applied by a human painter,
and an L-System based network that covers his art with a pattern of cracks, stains and grime.